Once you start sliding down the “slippery slope” (as University of the Philippines professor Dr. Butch Dalisay calls it) of fountain pen collecting, you will need accessories. You don’t just collect the pens. Or the ink. Or the fountain-pen friendly journals and pads. You also need the proper storage paraphernalia to keep your collection in.
Once you have a certain number of pens, you will find that you will tend to prefer some of them for regular use. The rest of your pens need to be stored properly to preserve their condition. Be sure to keep your pens away from sunlight, humidity, extreme temperatures (the freezer is not an option) and pests (mice, inquisitive family members). Some storage suggestions:
1. Pen boxes – These may be of wood, fabric-covered cardboard, or other materials, and look like treasure chests. Some have grooves inside to accommodate the pens, others elastic bands to keep them in place. Boxes are perhaps the safest kinds of storage.
2. Pen cases – these are available in leather, faux leather, vinyl, nylon, and fabric, and zip up all around. They have the advantage of being portable in case you want to bring your collection to penmeets. Some models have elastic bands only; others have both bands and tube pockets that go halfway up the pen.
A leather Conway Stewart 40-pen case.
A velvet flap (left) keeps the pens separated from each other. Elastic bands hold the pens in place. The case is lined with velvet to protect the pens.
It is also important to find a good place in your home to keep your collection pen cases or boxes:
1. Shelf – pen cases and boxes must be placed out of reach of curious people who might play with your “pretty bolpens” when you’re not around.
2. Closet, drawers, etc. – a good option, as long as they are not too humid.
3. Home safe – perhaps the best place, especially if your collection runs to limited edition diamond-encrusted Mont Blancs, but the inconvenience in accessing your collection may prevent you from fully enjoying your pens.
In general, collectors are also users. Users may carry one or more of the following types of pens:
1. Road warriors – sturdy and reliable pens with firm nibs for general purpose use: note-taking, sketching/drawing of diagrams and flow charts, and drafting of presidential candidacy speeches and pre-nuptial agreements.
2. Special purpose pens – pens with stub or italic nibs for addressing invitations and greeting cards in calligraphy; refillable highlighters or italic pens filled with highlighter ink.
3. “Play pens” – pens for doodling with during long boring meetings that require only half a brain for participation. These include pens with fancy nibs like music nibs for executing extravagant flourishes; “wet” writers with wide nibs that gush ink like geysers and allow you to appreciate the color gradations and texture of the ink; and flexible pens for practicing calligraphy and seeing how wide you can get the tines to spread before they deform.
These “daily pens” may be carried in your bag in smaller pen cases, of which there are many on the market:
1. “School” cases – these range from the plastic, cartoon character-adorned pencil cases of our childhood to modern nylon zip cases, all available at office and school supply stores.
2. “Corporate” pen cases – Fino Leatherware (Manila) makes beautiful leather pen cases, perfect for one or two pens. These are found in leather goods sections.
3. Fabric pen wraps – these have tube pockets and ribbon ties to secure the scrolled wrap.
4. Specialty pen cases – these are designed with the collector and serious user in mind, and are available online or in pen shops abroad. One option that is sturdy and tends to reduce the rubbing of pens against each other is a smaller version of the large leather pen case.
It is important to remember when choosing a daily pen case to get one where there are loops or bands or other means to keep the pens separate from each other.
A typical 12-pen leather case, closed.
A leather flap on the right side keeps pens separate.
There are two elastic bands per pen.
Whichever storage and carrying method you use, choose the one that feels right for you and works with the way you do and arrange things.